Shilin Night Market (士林夜市)

Saturday, 21 January 2017

On our second night in Taiwan, we went to the famous Shilin Night Market (士林夜市) for dinner. We were there at around 6:00pm and it was already buzzing with people. Not only are there food stalls outside, there's also an indoor food court where you can sit down and eat.

Hot sticky and thirsty, we started outdoors first with a cold lemony drink called Aiyu (愛玉), which is one of Taiwan's most popular summer drinks due to it's a cool, refreshing taste. The jelly is made from the seeds of a variety of fig commonly found in Taiwan and Singapore. I remember having this drink the last time I was in Taiwan, so I had to get it again because I know it's very hard to find elsewhere. You can also choose to add white/clear tapioca pearls to this drink, which locals then called "frog eggs" (青蛙下蛋) due to it's appearance.

We then bought a flaky scallion pancake (蔥抓餅)—one of my most favourite Taiwanese snacks—before heading to the indoor food court. Once inside, we were definitely overwhelmed by the size the place at first, but didn't lose focus at the sight of food and started looking around to see what the vendors had to offer.

Small and crowded with people, you really have to make an effort to grab a seat if there's a particular stall you want to eat at. We wanted some oyster omelette (蚵仔煎) and stinky tofu (臭豆腐) so we sat down at Zhong Cheng Hao (忠誠號) and had a serving of each. Honestly, they weren't that great. The stinky tofu wasn't "stinky" at all, and the oyster omelette had too much sauce for my liking. Taste-wise, it was average.

Then we had a "big pastry wrapped in a little pastry" (大餅包小餅), which is basically a crispy pastry inside a soft wrap bread. (How cute is the name though!) You can choose a number of flavours, include sweet and salty ones, but we got one with a peanut and black sesame filling.

After that, we bought a "big sausage wrapped in a small sausage" (大腸包小腸), which we've been seeing everywhere. (The cute names continue!) It's simply a sausage wrapped inside some glutinous rice, but it was definitely one of the best snacks we had that night. Highly recommended!

Now we've got our own Hot Star Chicken (豪大大鷄排) in Sydney, but I've never actually had it before since I can't finish it all by myself and I try to steer away from fried food as much as I can. But because we were in Taiwan, and in the Shilin Night Market, it was something that we just had to try even if we couldn't finish it. Located just near Shilin Station, the large fried chicken only costs NTD$70 a piece, which is about AUD$3! I personally found it to be a little salty and heavy on the MSG, but no doubt the chicken fillet was fried well and very juicy on the inside. It's not hard to see why so many young people love this as a snack: it's cheap, it's tasty and filling. Shirley and I were pretty full by the time we bought the chicken but we still managed to eat half of it (with a cup of pearl milk tea in the other hand too).

Other than food, there's also many game stalls in the market to pass time. Some of the most popular games include: balloon shooting (with a gun or arrow), fishing and a mahjong memory game. If you're lucky, there are loads of plushies to win too.

Finally, before heading back to the hotel, we had some shaved ice at Xin Fa Ting Dessert Store (辛發亭冰品店). We ordered the matcha red bean snow ice (抹茶紅豆雪片), and while the ice wasn't as fluffy as the ice we had in Seoul, it was still very creamy and smooth—a refreshing end to our night at the Shilin Night Market.

Shilin Night Market (士林夜市)
Lane 101, Wenlin Road, Shilin District, Taipei
台北市 士林區 文林路 101巷

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